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Forest fires are a problem that has blighted Indonesia, its people, its environment and its economy for years. APP takes the issue very seriously and has operated a ‘zero burn’ policy in our supply chain since 1996.
Despite this, fires still affect our pulpwood suppliers’ areas, including production areas that we rely on for raw material sourcing, and conservation areas that we are working hard to protect. This is because no concession is completely isolated in the landscape. As fires burn, they move from one area to another, and have frequently crossed into our suppliers’ areas.
As an example of this, the illustration below shows the movement of hotspots detected by FIRMS Hotspot with MODIS sensor satellite monitoring around one of our suppliers, RHM, in South Sumatra in August 2015.
The data illustrates how the hotspots detected outside RHM areas moved into the concession over the course of the month. The suppression efforts on fires across RHM constituted over 900 fire-fighting personnels from the company, community as well as military support, and 80 heavy machineries used to build fire breaks and expanding fire belts, as well as suppressing fires five kilometres beyond the concession boundary to prevent the fires from spreading.
While fires have since been suppressed in RHM, this data highlights that we cannot take a concession by concession approach. Fire does not respect concession boundaries, and the only workable solution to forest fires is to focus on addressing the causes of fire at a landscape level.
There are other causes of fires. Fire is a hugely complex issue, involving the rights of local communities, illegal activity by small enterprises and fundamental complexities over land use rights, maps, ownership and protection. Everyone involved – the government, private companies and local communities– needs to work together to find an effective solution to forest fires that operates at a landscape level. This, we hope, will end the problem once and for all.